Shared Stigma: The Effect of LGBT Status on Attitudes About the Opioid Epidemic

Simon F. Haeder, Steven Sylvester, Timothy Callaghan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Over the past decade, the United States has been ravaged by an unprecedented public health crisis. In 2017 alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified more than 70,000 individuals who died from an overdose. The dominant culprit in these deaths are opioids, which accounted for two-thirds of cases. Scholars have worked diligently to provide a better understanding of the root causes, extent, implications, and possible solutions to the opioid epidemic. A group that is disproportionately affected by illicit drug use, substance abuse disorder, and mental health issues has received little attention in this growing body of research: people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). We conducted a large national survey to study this issue in depth. Specifically, our analysis uses a national survey weighted to population benchmarks with an oversample of LGBT respondents to better understand attitudes about the opioid epidemic and whom the public blames for the crisis. Our analysis finds consistent evidence that LGBT individuals are less likely to blame individuals with addictions for the opioid epidemic. Simultaneously, we find that conservatism, high levels of religiosity, addiction status, and high levels of racial resentment all increase the likelihood that individuals blame addicts themselves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)414-435
Number of pages22
JournalWorld Medical and Health Policy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Policy


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